Government cuts mean 'tough choices' after Covid-19, says Camden Council

Camden Council HQ

Camden Council must make 'tough choices' as it anticipates a £30-50m budget shortfall, it said. - Credit: Google Streetview

Camden Council will have to make “tough choices” as it anticipates a budget shortfall running to tens of millions of pounds after Covid-19.

The authority has predicted a black hole of £31.7million by 2023/4 – but in a report last week, it warned that it could end up being £50million.

It said the predicted gap was due to a combination of Government cuts and a failure to reimburse councils for extra costs linked the pandemic.

A report by finance lead Richard Olszewski said Westminster’s support “hasn’t been sufficient.”

The council said coronavirus had occurred against a backdrop of “central government grant funding reductions”..

“The scale of the government’s cuts over the last ten years mean that tough choices are unavoidable," a spokesperson said.

Since 2010, government has implemented austerity measures, reduced funding to local authorities and told them to generate their own income.

“The government has cut our budget by over half and has still not confirmed our long-term funding or future funding for adult social care services,” said Cllr Olszewski.

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A council spokesperson added: “All of this has been exacerbated by the financial costs of the pandemic – in particular, the loss of income from fees and charges and the requirement to fund emergency costs such as PPE, food parcels and housing support.

“However, through continued innovation, a focus on prevention, integrating and joining up services, and working closely with residents and partners, the council will mitigate the worst impacts.

“It is therefore envisaged that our financial strategy will continue to protect much of the public services that form the backbone of our communities, such as youth centres, libraries, children’s centres, funding for domestic violence, housebuilding and support for homelessness."

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said government had allocated more than £12billion to councils during the pandemic, half of which was not ring-fenced and could be used at councils’ discretion.

“In the coming months we will take stock of the demands faced by councils and the resources available to meet them and will decide on the timetable for future funding reform,” a spokesperson said.

For more, read: Covid-19 could cost Camden Council £50m, report warns